“Our life is what our thoughts make it.”
― Marcus Aurelius
The objects of our desire typically become so, not for the attributes of the things themselves, but because of the feeling that we believe we will get from them. We want a beautiful car because of how we think it will make us feel. We want an impressive house because of how we believe it can make us feel. Therefore, the things we are after at the end of the day are feelings, which isn’t a new observation; it is something that people have observed for thousands of years. We are ultimately always chasing the emotions that we believe that these things can provide us. However, the reality is that those things we pursue might bring us a moment or two of excitement, but it won’t bring us a lasting sense of happiness. Eventually, we get used to having this new thing, and it doesn’t bring us the same joy anymore. So, we look for something new that we believe can bring us a feeling like that again.
We can have these feelings without having millions of dollars to spend on luxury items and vacations. We can focus on growing a good character instead of growing a bank account. We can think about how to enrich our souls rather than our wallets. Thinking about ways we can grow in virtue creates much higher returns than thinking about how we can grow in wealth. We can obtain the feelings of excitement, satisfaction, and fulfillment much more comfortable through self-discipline activities than we can purchase them.